Tips for Pastoral/Spiritual Care in Nursing Homes During Quarantine

Tips for Pastoral/Spiritual Care in Nursing Homes During Quarantine

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As a faith community nurse I can relate to pastoral concerns around providing spiritual care during the pandemic. We are used to being with a person or family during times of illness in crisis.  We thrive on providing intentional presence and support physically bringing God near. This ministry is part of our calling. How do we walk alongside those for whom we care when we cannot be physically present? My personal weakness for Dove chocolates reminded me today to “inhale the future and exhale the past.” Maybe this is the way to focus our spiritual care?
 
How can we virtually care for people who are isolated in a nursing facility, and not allowed visitors, communal meals or activities? We are driven to try because we understand that loneliness and isolation can lead to depression, loss of appetite and even higher mortality rates. How can we care for those grieving the loss of a loved one without the familiar traditions and rituals?

Bridge Conference Minister, Don Remick shared some tips from the United Church of Christ in his blog What Do I Do About Pastoral Care?  Technological ways to stay connected like Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook, texts and phone calls can provide contact by voice and picture. Many churches are worshipping on-line using these formats, chats, and Zoom coffee hours. The services are recorded and posted on Facebook or YouTube ready to be shared at any time. Many nursing facilities have received donated iPads and devices to help residents connect in this way.

The Spiritual Care Association Chaplaincy in the Time of COVID 19 also offers several resources. Remember to check with the facility in your area to make sure they are able to accept what you offer. Here are just a few of the ideas shared:
           
Creative Spiritual Care in the Midst of COVID-19
  • Phoning a patient’s room to provide emotional/spiritual supportive care.
  • Zoom, Face Time for chats or to share recordings of worship
  • Offer to conference call to facility staff meetings to support staff
  • Send a Pastoral Care/clergy newsletter to individuals or the facility
  • Make supportive calls to patient families
  • “Mindful Moments” weekly emails
  • “Renewal baskets” multi-faith prayer cards, heart shaped rocks, prayer squares, chocolate (for staff)
  • Encourage children to draw pictures or make cards to send to congregants and nursing facility residents to provide a bright spot in their day.
  • Donate IPads or other devices to the nursing home to be used for family calls.
  • Donate devices with music recorded from worship to be shared with nursing facility residents.
Chaplain Megan Cox, Parker Adventist Hospital in Parker, Colorado, offers a prayer to patients, families and caregivers that reminds us all that the Father will not be kept away by doors, walls or personal protective equipment. The sentiment applies regardless of the pace or person of the caregiver. If we can release the desire to do things the way we have always done them we can be creative in keeping God’s presence among us even through times of physical distancing.

Click on the link above and scroll toward the bottom to see the prayer by Meagan Cox and other resources from the Spiritual Care Association.
 
The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.- Psalm 29:11

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Author

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Deborah Ringen

Deborah Ringen is Transitional Minister of Health and Wellness for the Southern New England Conference, UCC.

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